How to manage a small business from your iPhone

Here, we look at the tools that enable a small company owner to manage their business from one device.

Anyone who owns or operates their own retail business, online or offline, knows that it’s no cakewalk. There’s plenty of help for many start-ups, and even more tools to make that helping hand stretch further, but once a business has to stand on its own it often comes falling back down. In fact, according to Forbes, 80 percent of start-ups fail not in the first year, but two or three years later; when help runs out or tools are deprecated, many entrepreneurs find themselves unable to keep their doors open.

Consolidating business management onto a single device could make a huge difference to a business’s survival rates. What if it were possible to manage a small business from a smartphone? With the right apps and services, an iPhone could help manage inventory, track profit and loss, even serve as a social media marketing hub, and then, on top of that, check out customers from anywhere there’s a decent signal.

See also: Top nine business apps for busy business owners – Gabriele Ottino, managing director of Doodle, runs through some useful apps to help small business owners.

Checking out and checking in

There are a lot of different tools to make mobile check-out easy; many mobile card readers plug directly into a smartphone’s audio jack or via bluetooth, making them compatible with Apple, Android and Windows devices regardless of variance in main port design. There are a number of different mobile card readers to choose from so you can work out what’s best for your price level, ease of use, or availability of add-on tools that work with a checkout service to help manage a business even on the road.

A mobile card reader will already let a small business owner check people out, but with a service like Shopify it could also let them check in on everything from the day’s profits to the current state of inventory without actually having to do a physical count or check a cash drawer. It’s the first point that makes the biggest difference for managing a small retail business. As reported by Chron, close inventory tracking is one of the single most important things a retail business can do; keeping a close eye on inventory movement makes it easy to estimate demand, keeping high-demand product stocked 100 per cent of the time, and also monitor possible theft and loss.

Since this retail management solution already utilises iPad-based cash registers, there’s no doubt that it’s possible to use an iPhone for similar purposes. By using one of the more-than-50 inventory tracking apps available from Shopify, some free, others requiring a small monthly fee, it’s easier for small business owners to keep up on the important things in their business even when they’re not on site.

Going social

Every small business needs to be part of a community, whether that community exists or is one the business builds. The easiest and most effective method for building a loyal user base is through social media, and that’s another place your iPhone could really shine.

According to some, social media is to thank for the dramatic shift in the marketing sphere in recent years, and is responsible for a massive number of highly important actions and interactions:

· Social media drives traffic to online businesses;

· Customer engagement is more easily achieved via social media than any other platform, where customers can interact directly with the brands and businesses they enjoy;

· Reputation management, one of the most important aspects of any small business, can be fine-tuned through social media posts and interactions;

· By having followers that like and share posts on their own social network feed, even the smallest brand can gain recognition.

To use a smartphone to manage social media, any small business owner needs to invest in the right tools. Services like HootSuite make it possible to manage multiple social media accounts from a single hub, including queueing posts for later publishing, linking and unlinking social media accounts to update simultaneously with identical content, and track the impact of a business through keyword monitoring across the networks in question.

Of course, HootSuite and services like it offer easy to use apps that allow full access to all of these features, making it possible to manage your social media no matter where you are. Being able to get out of the shop or away from your desk for trips, trade shows and other mobile endeavours has always come at the cost of up close and personal social media management, but with apps like these there’s nothing to tie any small business owner down.

Get an edge

Regardless of the product sold, if you’re looking to start a small retail business of your own these are tools you’ll need in your arsenal. Keeping up with supply and demand, connecting with your audience and maintaining relevance for your business is the only way to succeed in the current economic environment. Turning your phone into a mobile manager’s office will allow you to manage your business from anywhere and at any time, which is one thing that very few start-up entrepreneurs can boast. Let your iPhone give you the edge that many small businesses, some of your competitors included, most certainly lack – make sure your business is part of that 20 per cent of start-ups that succeed!

Further reading on running a business from your phone

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